Lawmakers in the House investigated on June 19, 2019 ways to ease rules on small business owners in the cannabis industry.
A hearing was held before the House Committee on Small Business, “Unlocked Potential? Businesses in the Cannabis Industry,” which brought witnesses from the cannabis industry to highlight the numerous obstacles they face in trying to obtain programs from the Small Business Administration.
Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) kicked off this testimony stating that this hearing was for bringing “needed attention to an industry that is rapidly evolving” with “small businesses at the forefront.”
“As the only House Committee dedicated solely to the needs of small firms, it is important for us to be shedding light on the challenges these small entities face as well as the economic potential they offer,” the Congresswoman said.
She added, “Despite growing economic opportunities around legal cannabis, factors like federal law enforcement, conflicting rules among the states, and our current banking regulations are hindering the ability for entrepreneurs and small businesses to fully engage in this new industry.”
Velázquez is currently crafting legislation that makes it easier for cannabis businesses legal under state laws to have more access to Small Business Administration programs, which are often shut off to them.
Recreational marijuana is already legal in 10 states and Washington D.C. Additionally, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states. Marijuana businesses have long griped about the obstacles they face in obtaining banking services due to cannabis being illegal under federal laws.
The good news is that the House Financial Services Committee advanced the SAFE Banking Act, which allows marijuana businesses to enter the banking system. It still remains to be seen whether the bill will get a full roll call vote on the House floor. Additionally, a GOP-controlled Senate will make its passage much harder.
This new hearing is a good start in reforming drug laws. The War on Drugs has been costly both financially and in terms of civil liberties violations. However, the cannabis sector should avoid trying to get in bed with the government through access to special sweetheart programs. Instead, it should focus on de-regulation and other measures that put less red tape and taxes on it.
The ultimate goal should be to grow cannabis, not government.